Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Liturgy of the Hours

Many, many years ago, when I was in college, a more “mature” student, who knew I was discerning religious life, suggested that I begin praying the Liturgy of the Hours because “all religious and priests” pray it. She bought me a book of Christian Prayer and then instructed me on how to pray it.
Quite honestly, in the beginning, I viewed it as a drudgery and a burden. She warned me about this. As I persevered in praying just Morning and Evening Prayer, I soon discovered its grace:  connection to the Mystical Body of Christ. Truthfully, I didn’t have those words in the beginning to describe the effect on my heart, but what I did sense was a “presence” to something greater than I was. I could feel this most keenly when, because of my crazy schedule, I skipped one of the times of prayer. I found myself always going back to it to reconnect to this powerhouse.
So, you might ask, “What is the Liturgy of the Hours? I have been a Catholic for ‘”x” amount of years and have never heard about it!”
Let’s begin by describing Liturgy. It’s not just the Mass. Liturgy is about worshiping the Triune God. It’s a two-fold action which includes adoration as well as thanksgiving. It is not dependent on the faithful gathered together in one place. Let me explain. The priest, who acts in persona Christi capitis (In the Person of Christ the Head), gathers up the prayers and praise of the people and offers worship of God in Christ. Through the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest only acts in this manner.
At each and every Mass, the entire Church – those in Heaven, in Purgatory and on earth – is united in its worship of God. EVERY SINGLE MASS! Please ponder on this reality!
With this being said, the liturgy of the Church also includes the Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours is not a sacrament, but rather the prayer of the entire Church. When the laity pray this form of worship, we exercise our common priesthood, given to us through the Sacrament of Baptism. We truly enter into an action of the Church since it is the prayer of the whole People of God. We spiritually sit side by side with the people of heaven and earth and pray together.
So, what is the Liturgy of the Hours? At a very high level, it’s a set of prayers that the Church has been praying for thousands of years at set times of the day. The prayers are a set of Psalms and other Scripture readings. Some of the components of this form of worship are repeated daily and others are repeated less often. It also includes intercessions for specific needs of the Church.
In addition, there are apps for the Liturgy of the Hours. Laudate and Divine Office are two that I use and both are free. The Divine Office app also contains an audio component. You can pray with the audio to give you a sense of praying with others. The neat thing about this app is that there is also a picture of the globe with tiny white dots that represent those people who are praying with you at that very moment of the day or night – a visible reminder of the global Church.
There are also digital breviaries (a book that contains the Liturgy of the Hours). These include iBreviary, Divineoffice.org, Universalis.com and Ebreviary.com.
In times like this, when we hunger to attend the Mass and experience social distancing as well as isolation, we can be united with the Church! Pray the Liturgy of the Hours! Fall in love with it! Be united as one heart and one soul!
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness

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